I recently received an email from a lady distraught over leaving the IFB. Here’s her plea for help and some thoughts I have on leaving the IFB:
I was raise IFB I mean strict IFB! I Married a good man and we went to a prominent IFB church for many years and did so until a year ago. There were always things my husband did not agree with but we stayed thinking we could look past things. A year ago things came to a head and my husband decided IFB was a cult and in my heart I know he is right but I struggle with “are we doing the right thing” on a daily basis. I feel like I don’t even have a relationship with God and even question how to have one. I feel distant and I feel it is affecting my relationship with my husband. It has in fact. I even told him last night I don’t love him like I used to. I don’t know what a right church looks like. We are white and we go to a black church and have been more accepted than the IFB churches we attended. I don’t agree with their politics and it really bothers me.
What I want to know is this typical of someone raised IFB or am I crazy? How can I get help? I would appreciate any help I can’t find anyone who has gone through something similar. Btw. My parents hate our decision and this affects me also.
Let me start by saying that you aren’t alone. I’ve heard similar stories from thousands of other people who have been trapped by the IFB and are now trying to escape. For some physical escape isn’t possible, so you’ve got many beaten on that front. For others, like yourself, who do manage to escape, the damage has been done and they find it difficult to escape mentally and emotionally.
I was one of those latter people. I was able to escape physically, but mentally and emotionally I had a much harder time. Like you I often had the same questions, wondering if I was really serving God or even really saved. I felt distant from God and I felt distant from my Bible. I didn’t know what to do about going to church. I constantly felt like I was sinning and would long for the safety of the IFB. I was confused on what church was supposed to be like. I was bothered by how “liberal” other churches seemed in comparison to the IFB. I was so bothered by these things I gave up for a little while, until…
I finally understood one day while reading Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan that those feelings and thoughts are the result of brainwashing. I know, brainwashing is a strong word, but it fits. This is exactly how the IFB keeps people, through the manipulation of feelings and thoughts. They teach you how to be dependent on the IFB rather than the Holy Spirit and the Bible. The cult mentality of the IFB makes it very difficult to break free from that emotional bond.
I’m here to tell you, however, that the confusion you have is due to the IFB’s retention and manipulation tactics. You feel distant, not from God, the Bible and or church, but from what you THOUGHT was God, the Bible and church. You feel distant from what the IFB taught you about God, the Bible and church. You feel conflicted because you are seeing a different way to worship and fellowship that was heavily criticized and demonized.
No, you aren’t crazy. You are liberated! That feels strange, uncomfortable and even unsafe, but as you learn to embrace your freedom from the IFB’s cultish practices you will slowly begin to see the IFB’s manipulation and guilt tactics for what they really are… brainwashing. What you’re experiencing is absolutely normal and it gets easier with time. What you have to do is develop your own way of fellowshipping with people, worshiping God and your own personal relationship with Christ apart from the IFB while remembering that you are free from the dangerous teachings of the IFB. As you do that you will gain a new and fresh perspective about who God really is and how your personal sanctification process should play out. That’s a truly awesome thing!